So, you’ve booked a holiday to go to Athens in the summer. This is cool, as our city is busy and vibrant then. However, it can also get hot, very hot! Here are some tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens.
What’s the weather like in Athens in summer?
You may be wondering how hot Athens gets in summer. Well, you should be prepared for temperatures to soar over 40 C / 104 F. This is not to say that every day will be over 40 C, however you may well expect this temperature in July and August. A 35 C / 95 F is definitely the norm during midday and afternoon.
If this is too hot for you, we strongly suggest avoiding these two months, and visiting in June or September instead. During these months, the temperatures generally don’t exceed 32 C / 90 F, and are often lower, so it’s definitely more bearable.
At the same time, Athens is a destination for any time of the year. Even though winter days can get rainy and cold, it is still a lot warmer than Northern Europe, Canada and many parts of the US. Sure, it won’t be swimming weather, but it will be less crowded and it will probably feel more authentic!
Tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens
If, however, summer is the only time you can visit Athens, here are a few tips to beat the heatwave and stay cool and safe.
Wear light colours and a hat
You probably knew this anyway, but what you wear can make a huge difference. It’s best to wear light, loose-fitting clothes, and avoid dark colours.
For women, long, flowy dresses are great. Not only are they versatile to wear at any time of the day, but they are also very light to pack.
Men can wear shorts or loose trousers, and light-coloured cotton t-shirts. Avoid synthetic materials that can make you sweat!
Another thing you should consider bringing along is a hat. Sure, it might make you look like a tourist, but not getting a heatstroke is definitely more important! It will definitely make all the difference when you are walking on the picturesque pedestrianized streets.
As for shoes, outdoors sandals are totally recommended – they are light, washable, and provide enough cushioning for our cobbled streets. My favourite brand is Teva!
Take a look at our ultimate guide on what to pack for Greece for more tips!
Consider bringing an umbrella
This may sound far-fetched for most people, but it’s very common in certain Asian countries, so it doesn’t hurt to suggest it. If your party has toddlers, elderly people or people who get tired easily, it doesn’t hurt to bring a small, light-coloured umbrella with you.
Don’t carry too much stuff with you
This may sound self-evident, but we are constantly surprised when people show up with huge backpacks for the day. Sure, if you are a professional photographer, you will want all your gear with you. It’s also normal to pack a few extra things if you have a baby or certain medical conditions.
For most people though, a small, light backpack or handbag where you can keep your water bottle, some sunscreen and other personal items is more than enough.
While we’re on this subject, we can’t stress it enough that it’s important to be wary of your belongings at all times. I’ve never had an issue with pickpockets myself, but it looks like many tourists do. Having your personal items taken away is totally inconvenient, to say the least, so be mindful.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
If you don’t really think that you should wear sunscreen in the city, I totally suggest that you give it a second thought. Sure, the sun in Greece isn’t as strong as in more tropical places, but you can still get burnt. I’ve learnt the hard way during some of my walking tours with visitors, and I’m Greek!!!
Drink lots and lots of water
Even if you are not used to drinking lots of water, you will probably feel the need for it if you visit Athens in summer! It’s very important to keep a bottle with you at all times, especially if you are not used to our hot weather. For summer days, we suggest that you drink at least two litres of water to keep hydrated.
Unlike many other countries, bottled water is very cheap in Athens. By law, a small 500 ml bottle never costs more than 50 cents, and is even cheaper at supermarkets. A 1.5 litre bottle will cost you around a euro, or 50 cents in most supermarkets.
Tap water in Athens is totally fine to drink, and there are even some spots in the city when you can top up your bottle. One of them is at the beginning of Ermou street, close to Syntagma, and there are also fountains up on the Acropolis.
Furthermore, when you stop for a coffee or snack, you can always ask them to refill your bottle. Most of them will be happy to oblige, and it makes a difference in all those plastic bottles we use!
This might be your biggest challenge, especially if you are one of these people who appreciate Greek food! However, it’s the best thing to do, especially if you are particularly sensitive to the heat. Have a salad, juice or light snack during the day, and have your bigger meal in the evening.
Contrary to the general low-sodium advice, add a little more salt than normal to your meal. It will help balance the electrolytes, such as sodium, that can be lost with excessive sweating.
Note that alcoholic drinks are not really a good idea, as your body might not realize that it’s too hot. So consider replacing that cold beer with a glass of water.
If this sensible piece of advice sounds too boring, you can at least drink enough water to keep you hydrated, and maybe have just the one beer instead of four. Or have a look at our extensive article for Greek drinks that you should try once, for non-alcoholic options.
Plan your day in advance
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice, and we’ve left it for last. If you are in Athens during a heatwave, two things makes sense – spend less time in the sun, and do not overstrain yourself! Just take it easy, as a heatstroke is no fun, and you may well need to spend a couple of days in bed.
Obviously, you will want to visit the ancient sites, like the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. Your best bet is to go during the coolest times of the day. You can always visit the Acropolis first thing in the morning – note, however, that this is when most tour groups visit, and it can get quite crowded.
Our suggestion is to visit the Acropolis in the evening, preferably around 18.00. Most people won’t spend longer than an hour and a half up on the hill, so you will be able to see everything comfortably. Note that walking up the Acropolis hill can be a challenge for people with mobility problems or the elderly, so put that in the equation.
As for the hottest part of the day, our best advice is to find air-conditioned places. Whether this is one of the excellent museums in Athens, a restaurant or cafe, or even your hotel room, it’s entirely up to you!
You can also walk around the shaded markets and sidestreets in Monastiraki and Plaka, go for a stroll in the Botanical Gardens, or just stay by your hotel’s rooftop pool, if there is one. Take a couple of cold showers too!
Head to the beaches near Athens
There is a coastline all around the wider area of Athens, called Attica. So many beaches to choose from! Many locals like the South suburbs, and the popular areas of Glyfada and Voula.
I prefer the beaches on the other side of Attica, like Schinias beach in the Marathon area, as they are wilder and less crowded. The only drawback for visitors, it’s not as easy to get there in public transportation.
A nice half-day trip from Athens is the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. If you rent your own car to get around, you can combine it with a swim on the way. The beaches of Anavyssos, Legrena or Punta Zeza are quite close.
Final note – Talk to your doctor
If you are taking any medication, especially medications for high pressure, anti-histamines, tranquillizers, diuretics etc, it’s important to ask for your doctor’s advice before you leave for your trip to Greece.
Similarly, if you have any health conditions such as diabetes, a heart condition, kidney issues, or any other serious condition, make sure you get solid advice from your doctor. This is by no means to scare you, but if you are not normally exposed to high temperatures, it’s important. Safety first!
You might also be interested in: How to plan a trip to Greece.